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Light Novel / Cooking With Wild Game

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A rare quiet moment between Asuta and Ai Fa.
Cooking with Wild Game is an Isekai light novel (later adapted into a manga) written by EDA and illustrated by Kochimo. It was localized in December 2018 by J-Novel Club.

Apprentice chef Asuta Tsurumi jumped into a sea of flame in order to save his father's precious kitchen knife. When he came to, he found himself in an unfamiliar world. After arriving at a settlement at the edge of the forest with a female hunter, he was surprised by how backwards the food culture was. And so, Asuta who was passionate about cooking started a food revolution in this different world, so he could let the people here feel the joy of 「eating」! An appetizing light novel about food in another world makes its debut!


Cooking with Wild Game features these tropes:

  • Abduction Is Love: To a horrific extreme. If Ai Fa's testimony is accurate, the males of the Suun clan, without exception, think the best way to profess their interest in a woman is to kidnap and sexually assault her, even if she's already betrothed to someone else. They did this to a woman of the Ruu clan, giving back her dead body when she resisted, and relations have been very bad between the two near-equally matched clans ever since. In fact, Ai Fa is an outcast, forced to live alone (prior to Asuta entering her life), because the heir of the Suun clan broke into her home through the window, tried to rape her so he could claim her as his wife, and spreads the word that she shamed him by having the gall to actually fight him off.
  • Aliens Love Human Food: Asuta, the proud heir to a family diner, is transported to another world while trying to retrieve his father's prized knife when the diner was set ablaze. He soon finds that the people living in Forest Edge have it ingrained in their culture that cooking is "unnecessary work", which makes Tsurumi's cooking Impossibly Delicious Food to them.
  • Accidental Pervert: Actually justified. Very soon after coming to Forest Edge, Asuta sees Ai Fa's naked body while she's bathing, but this occurs because Ai Fa gets attacked by a Moba in the river where she's bathing, cries out for help, and he came to her rescue. She lets the fact that he violated a major Forest Edge taboo pass precisely because of the severity of the situation, and the fact that he did manage to fight off the Moba that she could not overcome on her own.
    • Later happens again (Almost? He claims to have not seen anything) when Ludo Ruu forces Asuta into the area where the women of his clan are bathing, so he and his cooking skills will be forced to marry into the Ruu clan.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The makeup of some animals is truly bizarre. The local equivalent of a chicken has its wings on its head. How such an animal actually functions is never explained.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Many of the local fauna are very, very similar to normal Earth animals. Giba are the local equivalent of boars, and Moba are the equivalent of snakes. The most significant difference is that the local wildlife tends to be much larger than its Earth counterparts.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Asuta initially calls the most common vegetables in Forest Edge by Earth names, despite having only the most superficial similarity, for example, aria and poitan, onions and potatoes respectively. Though poitan is actually a shockingly giant cereal berry, like flour, rather than a tuber.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: The circumstances of Asuta's arrival are so convenient that it's more or less a Deus ex Machina for Forest's Edge. For one thing, he is dropped there at the perfect time to take advantage of Sacred Hospitality note , and expose the mountain thieves before they die of malnutrition. For another, he is dropped where he will immediately be found by the one person whose loneliness is stronger than her fear of outsiders, and who is willing to enable his culinary experimentation with her limited supplies...right around the time she's finished grieving and is ready to bond with people again. She is also probably his soulmate.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The whole village. Once upon a time, there used to be thousands of residents, and they lived in a fruit forest to the south. Soldiers from an unknown country drove them out, burned the forest to the ground, and the villagers had to take refuge in the country where Forest Edge is, losing 1000 people in the first year alone, while trying to learn how to handle dealing with giba and the other denizens of the jungle, not to mention learning what is and is not safe to eat. In fact, the great elder, Jiba Ruu, is the Sole Survivor from those days.
  • Darkskinned Blonde: The people of Forest Edge all have very dark skin, due to having to hunt from sunrise to sunset, and several of the more prominent characters are naturally blonde.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The culture of Forest Edge is very different from modern Japan, from where Asuta hails. Even within Forest Edge, the clans tend to see things quite differently from one another.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Donda Ruu, clan leader of the Ruu clan, gets loud, rowdy, and furious that Asuta has made giba meat, aria, and poitan dishes extremely soft and chewy (not to mention extremely delicious) because he, among many other men, all think that giba meat is supposed to be tough and bitter so the men can prove how tough they are by being able to eat it. Dondon, in his tirade, forgot that the reason Asuta cooked the meal was that he was asked to cook in service of Jiba Ruu, the honored elder, an 85-year-old woman who lost her teeth, due to age, and therefore has to eat food that's cooked very soft. Jiba Ruu calls him out on it.
    Donda Ruu: Adding the fruit wine into the dish makes it disgustingly sweet. The aria is soggy as if it’s rotten! Hey! You say this isn’t just giba thigh meat, you also used meat from the shoulder and back too, right?...Only Monta that feast on rotten meat will eat the torso of the giba! You think we are beasts lurking in the forest!? We are humans! We are honourable and proud hunters of Forest’s Edge! And you’re making us eat Monta feed!? What are you thinking!?
    Jiba Ruu: You are really a noisy child… Aren’t behaving like you did before becoming clan head…?... … If this is the food of Monta, then the Monta is more high class than humans… But maybe that is the truth of this forest…… Clan head Donda, it’s fine for you to think this way. Everyone is free to decide what is right or wrong… but for your grandmother, this meat is fine...
  • Everyone Can See It: The fact that Asuta and Ai Fa are clearly infatuated with each other is obvious to everyone, but themselves.
  • Fish out of Water: Asuta, coming from modern Japan, has great difficulty adjusting to the vastly different norms and culture of Forest Edge.
  • Food Porn: When Asuta's meals are described, along with the cooking method, your mouth will water...
  • Foreign Queasine: Some recipes used by the nobility fall firmly into this category. One standout example involves using super-fine needles to poke countless holes into a slab of meat so that it can absorb as much of the fat it is then soaked in as possible. Generally, it is said that the goal of noble cuisine is to cram in as many different ingredients as possible while still maintaining some semblance of edibility.
  • Full-Name Basis: The standard form of address for people of the forest's edge and westerners except, strangely, for the nobility, who mostly only go by their rank and either their given name or the name of their lands.
  • Inexplicable Language Fluency: Lampshaded. One of the few supernatural parts of the setting is that Asuta can understand its inhabitants' language (almost) perfectly. Nobody knows why, nor do they ever find out; it's essentially a Necessary Weasel to get the plot going.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Asuta and Ai Fa live under the same roof in Forest Edge despite not being married or otherwise related and clearly do not engage in any sexual hijinks. This is despite clearly finding each other very attractive.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: A double-layered example. The city dwellers treat the people of Forest Edge with disdain for hunting giba, despite the fact that this is the only reason giba, that are explosive breeders, don't completely overwhelm them and ravage their farms and homes. The people of Forest Edge, likewise, look down on chefs, considering it "a woman's job" and not being fond of "unnecessary work" in actually making the meals palatable.
  • Love at First Punch: Asuta falls for Ai Fa, hard, after she puts him in line, by threatening him with a hunting knife. Asuta is not entirely aware of this. He knows he likes her, but can't understand why.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The central dynamic between the two main characters, Asuta and Ai Fa. Some of the elders of the Ruu clan even go on to lampshade it.
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: The citizens of the western nation tend to have names that are the same or very similar to names from the real world, mostly European. They include German, English, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and even the odd bit of Chinese.
  • Might Makes Right: Since the entire village makes its living by hunting, the men, regardless of clan, all view physical strength, among men at least, as the ultimate virtue.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: As far as cooking goes, at least. The people of Forest Edge have to spend so much of their day hunting and foraging that they've learned to not care a great deal about the flavor of their meals. Asuta, an amateur apprentice chef in Japan, has cooking skill that's considered legendary because he actually butchers the animals properly, and makes giba meat, notorious for being bitter and tough, actually tender and delicious, with only the most basic of ingredients.
    • When Asuta is dragged (at knife point) into a competition with the best Chefs of Genos city, who have access to vastly superior ingredients, he still blows them out of the water, despite being a "half-baked" chef.
      Roy: If you're 'half-baked' than how 'unbaked' are the rest of us?
  • Outside-Context Problem: The question of just how Asuta ended up in a different world is one that comes up, but is never answered, mainly because there’s no basis for it, either in his world or the one he ended up in. The world he is transported into has no system of magic, so that explanation is out, and the best explanation that Asuta can come up with is that he might have died in his old world, before being transported to the new one, with the nagging fear that he might suddenly be sent back to face his death one day.
  • Pretty Freeloader: Defied. The law of the land in Forest Edge is if you don't work, you don't eat. If you can't work, or at least can't hunt, you're still entitled to your share of the meal if you can at least try to pull your own weight in other ways. Asuta doesn't get a free pass, but earns his way like everyone else by helping Ai Fa maintain her home and hearth, which she secretly greatly appreciates, as he taught her what "delicious" means through his cooking.
  • Quality over Quantity: The primary difference in cooking traditions between Asuta and the chefs of Genos. Asuta uses condiments sparingly and only to bring out the inherent taste of the dish. The chefs of Genos live under the motto of "the more the merrier" and thus think the chef who can cram the most spices and condiments into a dish is the best. Asuta's meals not only wind up tasting better, for any and all who are unbiased, but also prove to be far more nutritionally balanced.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In Forest Edge, the women are explicitly forbidden from hunting, and are expected to care for the home and hearth while the men hunt giba, the primary staple. Ai Fa gets away with hunting because she's an outcast and the Sole Survivor of the Fa house.
  • Slow Life Fantasy: Apprentice chef Asuta Tsurumi finds himself in a fantasy world where the food culture is backwards compared to Earth, and instead of adventuring, starts a food revolution by introducing cooking techniques.
  • Supreme Chef: Even as an apprentice chef in Japan, Asuta was recognized as exceptionally talented.
  • Tears of Joy: The reaction of just about anyone, aside from the most testosterone-poisoned macho-men, who taste Asuta's cooking and discover, to their surprise, that the foods and meat they've been resigned to thinking was mostly unpalatable could actually be overwhelmingly delicious.
  • Through His Stomach: The manner by which Asuta wins Ai Fa's heart, though her being a full-on type-A tsundere, and him not being familiar with the customs of Forest Edge, has given him great difficulty understanding.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The paring knife belonging to Asuta's father. It's the only thing he was able to save when his father's restaurant burned down. Ai Fa has a few treasured items of her deceased father as well.
  • Translator Microbes: The first thing Asuta notes in his encounter with Ai Fa is that the two of them can understand each other's words perfectly, despite being from lands so distant that they've never heard of each other and can't possibly have a common language. How this works has yet to be revealed or understood, even in-universe. Strangely, there are a couple cases where the translation isn't perfect, when Asuta is unable to parse the meaning of the local words for cheese and butter.
  • Trapped in Another World: Asuta goes into his father's burning restaurant to try and rescue the paring knife which is an ancient family heirloom and wakes up in the jungle next to Forest Edge with no idea how he got there or how to get back.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Both Asuta and Ai Fa fall into this. While everybody frequently comments on how weak Asuta is compared to everyone in Forest Edge, those who actually appreciate cooking find him to be highly skilled in his craft, drawing, quartering and skinning giba, which is noted to not be easy. (In fact, it is noted that it takes several women to tan one hide). Ai Fa is considered weak, compared to the men of Forest Edge, but is noted to be one of the most talented hunters, and even the most testosterone-poisoned men have to acknowledge it and consider her a good bride.
  • Women Are Wiser: While the grown men of Forest Edge, so far with only one exception, are loud, rambunctious, and suffer from serious testosterone poisoning, as muscles have apparently suffocated their brains, the women of the tribe are generally level-headed, and appreciate both Asuta's skills and efforts in the kitchen, not to mention the taste of his cooking, shocked at how much better he's able to make their meals, with only the most basic of ingredients. This goes double for the elder Jiba Ruu, who openly blesses Asuta for preparing a meal so delicious that it reminds her of the fruit forest she grew up in, where the meals actually tasted good, and getting them wasn't a life-threatening endeavor.